Triathlete Mhlengi Gwala was badly injured when robbers attacked him with a chainsaw on Tuesday morning, News24 reported. Gwala was reportedly training near the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday morning at around 3.15am when he was approached by three men and dragged into the bushes.
His athletic sponsor, Sue de la Porte told News24 that Gwala offered the robbers his cellphone and money, but they pinned him down and tried to saw off his leg.
"He is very badly injured. We've just spoken to the plastic surgeon and he is currently in the surgical ward," she reportedly said.
The 27-year-old athlete managed to drag himself to safety after the attack, TimesLive reported.
The motive behind the attack is not clear. Director of the Elite Athlete Development Programme which Gwala is part of, Dennis Jackson, told TimesLive that the motive is a mystery.
"I haven't quite got to grips with exactly what happened. It seems like they pulled him into a bush while he was on a training ride. They had a chainsaw and went for one of his legs‚ which is the concerning part.
"We don't yet know how far they went in‚ whether they were trying to cut it off‚ or what the circumstances are. All we know is that Mhlengi is alive‚ he is talking and that he is under medical care.
"We don't have the whole story as yet."
He reportedly said Gwala is none the wiser as to why the attackers left.
Fellow athlete Henri Schoeman shared the news on Twitter.
A friend of mine, cycling in the Durban area was robbed by three people this morning, Then they attempted to saw off both legs with a chainsaw. Blade too blunt and only got half way through one and started on the other. Absolutely disgusting! How safe are we on SA roads?— Henri Schoeman (@H_Schoeman) March 6, 2018
I wish all the best to @MhlengiGwala in his operation and road to recovery. We all stand behind you and support you as we need to make cycling safer on the roads in South Africa!— Henri Schoeman (@H_Schoeman) March 6, 2018
There was an outpouring of outrage and support for Gwala on social media on Tuesday.
This is unbelievable. Please could someone send Contact details of a person at the hospital. Thanks— Durban Ultra Tri (@DBNUltra) March 6, 2018
Delighted to hear doctors say @MhlengiGwala WILL be able to run again.— Piers Edwards (@piers_e) March 6, 2018
He is stable, says triathlete's training partner. Terrrific news after horrendous chainsaw attack.
Via @Msuwonkunda #SouthAfrica https://t.co/06YeEl38Ob
Our thoughts and prayers are with you @mhle. Horrified by the attack on you. Thank you to the medical team and @EADP_KZN @Tubz911 for all you did today. #TeamKZN @KZNDSRSA #MhlengiGwala pic.twitter.com/ZtIgpBdvF8— EADP KwaZulu-Natal (@EADP_KZN) March 6, 2018